MEDINA — Medina County commissioners are planning to donate 8 1/2 acres of land in Innovation Park to Lafayette Township for its new fire station.
Commissioner Bill Hutson said the donation won’t generate a tax deduction for the county.
“It’s just a transaction,” Hutson said at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting. “We don’t want to hold up Lafayette Township.”
Commissioners still must pass a resolution on the transfer.
Township voters approved a 2.5-mill levy Nov. 8 that will generate about $4 million over 15 years for the station.
County Administrator Scott Miller said the township is expected to break ground on the $3.4 million fire station in August or September.
Earlier this year, the Medina County Port Authority, which has been charged with developing Innovation Park since 2005, approved a resolution to negotiate the transfer of park acreage to Lafayette for the fire department.
The land for the fire station is part of an area totaling 60.42 acres that has yet to be developed. Other than the University of Akron’s Medina County University Center, there are no other occupants on the property.
The area off Wedgewood and Lake roads became known as Innovation Park when the development project was created in 2003. The land was designated as a Community Reinvestment Area in 2012 and a Joint Economic Development District, or JEDD, was created in 2014. Under a JEDD agreement, multiple municipalities work together on development and share tax revenues.
The Port Authority is using NAI Cummins Real Estate to advertise and attempt to sell the acreage.
The asking prices for the land vary on the size of the parcels, which range between three and 21 acres.
Commissioners on Tuesday noted there is a stipulation in the county’s agreement with the Port Authority that says it can’t sell any of the land for less than $40,000 an acre.
Miller said he was told recently by Lafayette Township Trustee Lynda Bowers that farmland is selling for about $3,000 an acre in the township.
Commissioner Pat Geissman on Tuesday questioned the entire project that was created in 2003.
“It was not a good decision that was made several years ago in regards to Innovation Park being there,” she said. “They were trying to tie something together with the university center. “
Innovation Park is way out of the way, she said. “It’s not close to anything. That’s one of the reasons nothing has sold out there.
“When someone mentioned maybe you should develop it residentially, that might not be a bad idea. I don’t know who is going to come in here commercially and spend $40,000 an acre and have to travel a distance to get on an expressway. It was just a bad decision.”
“There’s not been a demand for it,” Hutson said. “There’s not been a market for it. As Pat said, it’s not necessarily in the best location.”
Hutson, who served 10 years on the Port Authority, said the agreement with the Port Authority is obsolete and should be terminated.
“It doesn’t fit where we’re at today,” he said. “Let’s start from scratch and come up with a new agreement. There are no monetary damages to either party.
“In my opinion, it would make sense to enlist the Port Authority to market it and sell it, give them a percentage, and be done with it,” he said. “They could be basically a sales agent on behalf of the county.”
Commissioners said they want county Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson to review the agreement and possibly help to rewrite it.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.